Carnival Week is undoubtedly one of the most colourful and much awaited for event in the Maltese calendar. The Carnival provides five days of revelry with many young and old alike, dressing up in colourful costumes and covering their faces with masks in the many towns and villages.
Gozo organizes its edition of this festivity. The main activities take place in the main square in Gozo’s capital Victoria and in Nadur Square. But a particular event, which takes place in Nadur, defies the official definition of a standardised Carnival activity such as those held in Valletta (the capital city of Malta) and Victoria. Nadur is one of the villages of Gozo with a long tradition of spontaneous carnivals. Indeed this event has become such a popular one that parties of university students annually participate as part of anthropological fieldwork! The novelty of the Nadur Carnival is that there is no organising committee to plot out its course. Thus it retains an essentially popular character.
The main purpose of dressing up is simply not to be recognised. Consequently grotesquely disguised crowds overrun the streets with costumes consisting mainly of haphazard, coarse guises made of sack, sheets, wigs and incongruous make-up. The local participants are often silent for most of the time in order to make sure that they remain unidentified – no wonder there are times when it is also referred to as the Silent Carnival !!! Within this absurd set-up it is not uncommon to catch sight of placards with ambiguous, snide remarks daubed in paint directed at both private and public personalities, which in order to avoid being regarded as libellous are often veiled reference, very difficult to gauge for first-time visitors.
It is a must to participate and experience the joie de vivre, this activity brings along.
Feast of Santa Maria in GOZO
The feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, also known as Santa Marija, is celebrated on the 15th August where most celebrations take place in Victoria Gozo. The feast of Santa Marija is also celebrated in six villages in Malta being Attard, Ghaxaq, Gudja, Mosta, Mqabba and Qrendi.
Numerous Maltese and visiting tourists celebrate this popular feast in Gozo, many of them staying over for the long weekend resulting in the majority of hotels and other holiday accommodations being fully booked.
This day also commemorates the 66th anniversary of the arrival of the Santa Marija convoy, which saved Malta from surrender when the allied convoy of food and fuel reached the islands on the 15th of August 1942, despite the heavy bombardment inflicted by German and Italian planes and the sinking of many of the ships.
This feast day is also a National Public Holiday and has deeply rooted ties with both our folklore and history.
EASTER in GOZO
The celebrations of Holy Week and Easter are of a religious character, however people from all walks of life flock in big numbers to commemorate the resurrection of Christ.
Holy Week commences on the Friday preceding Good Friday, when the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows is carried in a procession through the streets of Valletta and many other towns and villages. During this time, the Maltese flock to the churches in great numbers. On Maundy Thursday, the “seven visits” take place, which are the visits to seven different churches, to pay homage to the Altars of Repose.
Good Friday gives a sombre outlook, as churches are deprived of the traditional ornamental style. Instead, red is the dominant colour, symbolising the Blood of Christ.
The situation entirely transforms the following day, when bells toll as they break the night’s silence in order to announce the Resurrection of Christ. Mid-morning on Easter Sunday, a procession with a statue of the Risen Christ moves around the streets close to the church. At the end, the way is cleared and the statue-bearers take a run to carry the Risen Christ triumphantly back into the church.
Easter day is traditionally celebrated with a family lunch and is a time to visit relatives and friends, exchanging gifts. It’s also a tradition to give children Easter eggs and a “figolla”, (a traditional Maltese almond-filled pastry, covered in icing).